The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Opinion

January 12, 2013

ASK DEBRA: Disturbed nephew

PALESTINE — Question: My wife and I adopted our nephew a few years ago. He had been through a lot of bad things, including exposure to drug trafficking, before he was placed in our home when he was four. We thought we could just love the negative out of him, but that does not seem to be working. Now he is a pre-teen and is having all kinds of anger issues against us and showing some open rebellion. We have never been anything but good to him, and now we feel as if he is turning on us. We are at a loss and are wondering if we made a terrible mistake in adopting him. Is there any hope for our turning this situation around?

 

Answer: Children who have been through the trauma you described usually need extensive counseling. While taking a child out of a bad situation and giving him a good life is a wonderful start toward a better future, that act alone will not erase the past. The past needs to be dealt with and put to rest.

Think of your child’s emotions and mind as a garden. Whatever is planted in a garden will eventually sprout and produce fruit. Even though you have planted good seed in your child, he had plenty of bitter weeds planted before you got him. Those bitter weeds need to be uprooted one-by-one. While I believe the Lord does deliver from bad pasts, He often uses good Christian counselors to facilitate the deliverance. I highly recommend that you connect with someone who has a special love for troubled kids and can build a rapport with your child in order to help him.

Meanwhile, you can become proactive by starting to talk with your son. It appears that one of the bitter weeds planted in him is anger. Often, children caught in your nephew’s situation will suppress anger toward the birth parents who failed them. Then, they will project that anger upon the adoptive parents, no matter how good the adoptive parents are to them. This might explain why he is angry with you.

Instead of reacting to his anger with your own anger or stricter disciplinary measures, try talking to him about the reasons for his anger. Too many parents of troubled children wait for them to initiate conversations about past pain. Unfortunately, most kids don’t know how to initiate conversation about how they feel.  Instead, they act out their stuffed emotions. Therefore, don’t be shy about beginning a conversation. Don’t put words in his mouth, but think about using some conversational templates such as: “My birth parents were into drugs. They abandoned me. Now I feel _______ about this.” Allow your son to fill in the blank. After a season of using these type templates, you will find that your son will begin to open up more and more about what is troubling him. Furthermore, explain to him that it’s important for us to talk about our feelings, rather than react from them.

Initiating conversations about the past along with regular sessions with a counselor will place your son on a path that will lead to his deliverance. However, the bitter weeds planted in your son’s heart were not placed there overnight, and they will not be removed overnight, either. The journey to wholeness will most likely take several years. Nevertheless, they will be years well-spent.

Don’t give up! Your hard work and tenacity will one day reap miraculous results. Keep praying and persevering! Remember, “God will make a way where there seems to be no way” (Don Moen).

—————

The author of 54 books, Debra White Smith holds an M.A. from U.T. and is the featured relationship specialist on the Fox News Radio Show, “Plain Jane Wisdom.” She and her husband, Daniel, co-pastor Palestine Church of the Nazarene. For more information, visit www.debrawhitesmith.com. Got a problem? E-mail Debra at askdebra@live.com

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • 7-26-simon-slaw.jpg Cooking with Simon: Stomp grapes and eat Texas food

    If you’re picking up the newspaper on Saturday, you still have a chance to come out to Sabor a Pasion and celebrate the grape harvest at the 2nd Annual Charity Grape Stomp.

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • Two decades of storytelling

    For the past 20 years, I have covered everything under the sun while working as community editor at the Palestine Herald-Press. I have covered festivals, banquets, graduations, fires, wrecks, elections, giant vegetables, you name it, I probably wrote about it.

    July 26, 2014

  • At the Movies: 'Begin Again' — Fresh tale creates appeal

    Some people film big pictures.  Others do small pictures.  Writer-director John Carney makes small pictures. 

    July 26, 2014

  • IMG_1373.jpeg COOKING WITH SIMON: Summer produce brings recipe inspiration

    Chefs are always recreating their menus and finding new inspiration for recipes. People ask me how where my new ideas come from and what I do to get inspired. The answer – mowing the lawn – and, by the way, I have a lot of lawn, vineyard and fields to mow.

    July 19, 2014 3 Photos

  • Swiss Chard  & Peach Salad COOKING WITH SIMON: Garden vegetables ready to harvest

    Last month, I was invited to cook for a group of clients at a fishing lodge in Alaska. It was quite an experience – beautiful scenery, amazing salmon, halibut, and great accessibility to some of the best fishing in the world.

    July 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • watermelon COOKING WITH SIMON: Red, white and watermelon

    Happy 4th of July weekend! On every street corner the fruit of Texas is being sold from the back of old trucks and roadside produce stands.

    July 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • COLUMN: Musings about life and the pursuit of happiness

    Yesterday was July 4th, a time we celebrate independence and the truths that all men are created equal and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” to quote Mr. Jefferson.

    July 5, 2014

  • MOVIE REVIEW: 22 Jump Street

    I should have known better.  Just like “Legally Blonde” and “Dumb and Dumber,” a comedy based on a premise as opposed to one based on truly funny characters merged with a clever situation should never have a sequel.

    July 3, 2014

  • 6-28--SIMON-Lamb-Sliders.jpg Cooking with Simon: Celebrate July 4th with lamb burgers

    Being born in one country and raised in another can bring a bit of confusion to one’s life. And then to find yourself living in a third country as an adult, is one reason this kiwi is all messed up.

    June 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Editor's Notebook: Kids can create their own summer fun

    Things are so different today than when I was a kid. A recent conversation with my 9-year-old son reinforced my belief.

    June 28, 2014